March 28, 2008

The Audacity of Government

Stories of the Bush Administration, its unique style of asserting presidential authority, and its quest to redefine the limits of presidential power.


Host Ira Glass talks with Yale law professor Jack Balkin about what he calls the Bush Administration's "lawyering style," a tendency to fight as hard as it can, on all fronts, to get what it wants. Ira also plays tape from a news conference with New York Senator Charles Schumer, in which he takes the Justice Department to task for refusing to pay death benefits to the families of two auxiliary policemen who were killed in the line of duty, even though federal law grants those benefits. (5 minutes)

Act One

The Prez Vs. The Commish.

Ira Glass tells the story of a little-known treaty dispute with far-reaching ramifications for our understanding of executive power. The dispute is between the President and one of his appointees...to the International Boundary Commission with Canada. This little-known commission carried out its function without fanfare or incident for over a hundred years, until a couple of retirees in Washington State built a wall in their backyard and, quite literally, set off an international incident. (23 minutes)


“Oh, Canada”
Act Two

This American Wife

This American Life contributor Jack Hitt uncovers a strange practice within the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. If a foreign national marries a U.S. citizen and schedules an interview for a green card, but the U.S. citizen dies before the interview takes place, the foreign national is scheduled for deportation with no appeal—even if the couple has children who are U.S. citizens. Jack talks with Brent Renison, a lawyer who's representing over 130 people in this situation, mostly widows, who are seeking to overturn the Immigration Service's rule. (20 minutes)